If your Husky loves to run and naturally pulls in front of you on a leash, your dog would probably love to pull you on a bike! This sport often called bikejoring or urban mushing, is the perfect way for you and your pet to exercise and have fun together. Before you can harness your dog’s energy and hit the trails, you’ll need to learn how to train a Husky to pull a bike.
How to train a Husky to pull a bike? Take the following steps:
- Evaluate your dog’s physical fitness and mental disposition.
- Learn the basic mushing commands with your husky.
- Get the necessary bikejoring gear.
- Find a safe place to train in your area.
- Purchase a clicker and training treats.
- Choose a training method.
- Start working with your dog regularly.
If you’re ready to learn how to train a Husky to pull a bike, you’ve found the right article. Keep reading to learn three in-depth urban mushing training methods, plus everything you need to know to keep you and your dog safe while bikejoring.
Why You Can Trust Me
I’m a lifelong dog owner, and have over 10 years of experience researching and writing content for veterinarians. To provide you with the ultimate guide to training your Husky to pull a bike, I’ve found out what expert trainers, dog handlers, and veterinarians have to say. I’ve scoured resources to learn as much about training Huskies as I can.
Also, I’m a Husky owner, and this gives me hands-on experience with this hard-working breed.
Like other members of his breed, my Husky, Bogie, has far more energy than he could ever burn off by going on walks throughout the day. He dislikes being on a leash because he wants to run and run at top speed. Eager to sprint, Bogie’s always up for a fast-paced game of fetch or chase. Because Huskies are working dogs at heart, they are bred to pull sleds through the snow. Frosty weather is Bogie’s favorite, but he has yet to learn the more advanced trick of pulling a dog sled.
I now know how to train a husky to pull a bike, but Bogie possesses a dislike of contraptions – including bicycles. Although I’m desensitizing my dog to bicycles, learning to pull one might not be in the cards for him. You’ll learn more about assessing your Husky’s aptitude for pulling a bike, too, as you read on.
Safety First: 5 Preliminary Steps for Safe Urban Mushing
Before you even begin training your Husky to pull a bike, you’ll need to do some prep work to make sure your Husky can train safely.
1. Assess your Husky’s aptitude for pulling
Firstly, learn about the types of dogs suited for bikejoring. Then evaluate your Husky’s temperament and physical abilities to determine his fitness to pull. Dogs should be confident, strong, and fit.
Your veterinarian can help you determine whether this activity is right for your dog.
Generally Huskies are of the right mental disposition to pull a sled or bike. This is what they’re bred for, and they’ll be eager to work! That being said, every Husky is different.
Regardless of breed, each dog has a slightly different personality. You should take your dog’s disposition into account before training. Reactive or nervous dogs aren’t well-suited for pulling fast-moving bikes.
A Husky must be be fully developed before learning to pull a sled or bicycle. Hooking your pup up to a Husky bike attachment too early could cause an injury that hinders his development and limits his abilities for life. Likewise, asking a senior dog with possible joint problems to pull a bike could also pose health risks.
Check with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is developed and fit for the work before commencing training.
2. Learn the language of mushing
Before you hitch your Husky up to a bike, you need to have a language that will allow you to control your dog. As a result this ensures you can command your dog to stay focused, avoid obstacles, stop, and speed up or slow down. Mushing commands like gee (right turn), haw (left turn), hike (go), and whoa (slow) will help you and your dog complete every journey in one piece.
Whether you’re ready to start training your Husky to pull today or wait for your puppy to finish growing, you and your pet should begin learning the language of mushing now.
3. Get the proper gear for your Husky
Having the right gear like a harness, husky bike attachment, and/or husky sled bike is paramount to your dog’s safety while pulling. On the other hand poorly made or ill-fitting equipment will lead to imbalanced weight strain and put your pet at risk of injury.
When it comes to selecting a harness, not just any harness will do. For example, a walking harness features a very different fit and set of features from a bike pulling harness. The no-pull harnesses available to discourage dogs from pulling on the leash can be very dangerous if used on a mushing dog.
The harness chosen must be designed specifically for urban mushing. It will distribute the weight of pulling across your pet’s chest rather than the neck. It should also fit properly and feature an even distribution of weight to prevent injury.
We recommend these two harnesses specifically for bikejoring or urban mushing with bikes.
|Name||Description||Where to buy|
|Ruffwear Omnijore Joring system||Versatile across most dog pulling activities like canicross, skijoring, bijoring and skatejoring. Includes a dog harness, human hipbelt, and towline. Comes in 3 sizes.||Check price on Amazon|
|Canine Equipment Ultimate Pulling Dog Harness||Affordable. Does not include human hipbelt or towline. Comes in 4 sizes. For neck and shoulders features extra passing and is fleece-lined.You can purchase the towline separately here.||Check price on Amazon|
|Neewa Sled Pro Harness||Specifically made for Malamutes and Huskies. Versatile: works for canicross, dog trekking/sledding,skijoring and bikejoring. Available in 6 sizes and 4 colors||Check the price|
Once you have the harness, you’ll need to decide how you plan to attach your dog to your bike. A standard bike will require a couple of modifications. For example, you’ll need a husky bike attachment that safely secures your husky’s gangline (at least 7 foot in length) to your bike. These include spring or bungee features to prevent injury, and keep the gangline from getting tangled in your bike’s wheels.
If you want to give your dog paws more traction on the ground while running or wish to keep their paws warmer on a cold ground, invest in some dog boots. You can re-use these boots when you are walking your dog in Winter.
If you want to capture the sled dog feeling without the snow, you can invest in a husky sled bike. A Husky sled bike looks a little like a tricycle with a single wheel in front and two, shorter wheels in the back. Each of the back wheels supports a platform where you (the musher) will stand – like you would on an authentic dog sled.
When shopping for gear, only purchase from a reputable manufacturer that specializes in mushing gear for dogs.
4. Get the proper gear for you
Before you hop onto a Husky-powered bicycle, make sure you’re also wearing the proper safety gear.
When training your dog to pull a bicycle, you should expect a few crashes and spills along the way. It’ll all be worth it in the end – as long you’re adequately protected with a helmet and pads. Here are our recommendations for bikejoring gear for humans.
|Recommendation||Name||Where to buy|
|Best overall||Giro Chronicle||Check price on Amazon|
|Best safety||POC Octal X Spin||Check price on Amazon|
|Best budget||Giro Fixture||Check price on Amazon|
|Recommendation||Name||Where to buy|
|Best overall||Leatt Airflex Pro||Check price on Amazon|
|Best heavy duty||661 Evo II||Check price|
|Best value||Ion K-Pact Zip||Check price on Amazon|
5. Locate the right trails
Bikejoring isn’t safe (especially when your dog’s first learning) or allowed on every trail, path, or sidewalk. The best place to practice is on a low-traffic, multi-use trail, where you’ll have enough space and won’t encounter too many other pedestrians.
Ready to Begin? Learn How to Train Your Husky to Pull a Bike
Stock up on miniature dog treats for positive reinforcement training
Before you begin, it’s good to remember that positive reinforcement is the most effective dog training method.
You can use a training clicker.
Reward your Husky when he does something right and acknowledge his hard work with plenty of treats and praise.
This activity should be fun for both you and your dog.
Do your best to keep lessons and practice time with your dog positive.
It’s okay to correct mistakes, especially if they could be dangerous.
However, corrective action should not be punishment-based. Be patient and careful not to lose your temper.
Method 1: The Pulling Method
This method gets your dog accustomed to pulling something with his harness before you attach him to a bike.
Step 1: Create a drag
Use a clip and seven-foot piece of cord to hook your dog’s special pulling harness to a four-foot-long 4″x4″ wood plank. Attach the cord by putting a hole in the plank, threading the cord through, and tying a sturdy knot.
Step 2: Learn to pull the drag
Put your dog in his harness. Attach the drag, using the appropriate clip. Keep your dog on a leash and go for a walk, as you usually would, but let the wood plank drag.
Whenever your dog tugs the drag a short distance, click the clicker and offer your pet a treat. Have him continue to pull. Every few feet repeat the clicks and rewards.
Your dog might seem nervous about the wooden plank dragging behind him. Reassure him, reinforce pulling with treats and clicks, and be patient while he becomes okay with this training step.
Step 3: Practice mushing commands with the drag
Practice using your mushing commands while your dog drags the wood plank. Be sure to associate the proper turns, speed, or movements with each command you use.
|Hike! All Right! Mush! Let’s Go!||Start/go|
|Trail!||On the trail, request right-of-way|
Step 4: Practice with a small bike
Before asking your dog to mush a full-sized bike or husky sled bike, practice with a smaller version like a BMX bike.
Take out the rest of your bikejoring gear and attach it to a small bike.
Attach the rig to your dog’s harness with the bike on the floor. Grip onto the gangline while you mount the small bike then command your dog to go. Let him pull as you begin pedaling to match your pet’s pace.
Practice all your commands and cheer on your dog along the way. You can also switch the bikejoring rig with your regular bicycle or dog sled bike, but only when you’re both comfortable with the miniature bike.
Method 2: The Commands-First Approach
This method is the perfect choice to start training a young Husky who’s not quite ready to start pulling weight.
Step 1: Walk and command
Put your dog on a regular leash and go for regular walks. While you do so, practice your mushing commands. Bring a notecard with you if you also need a little help learning what they all mean.
As you walk, teach your dog the verbal commands by associating the expected movements with them. Reinforce their actions with treats, clicks, and praise.
Step 2: Add the harness
Now, put your dog in her new mushing harness and continue to reinforce the verbal mushing commands while you go for walks.
During this step, focus on teaching your dog to avoid/ignore distractions using the go on by command.
Don’t forget to reward positive behavior.
Step 3: Pull the line out
During this step, you’ll attach longer leads (called guidelines) to your Husky’s mushing harness. Encourage him to walk in front of you and pull the leads taught. Then continue practicing the mushing commands.
Step 4: Add a drag
Once your Husky’s comfortable with the previous steps, fully developed, and ready to pull a little weight, you can add a drag.
To create a drag, attach a four-foot-long 4″x4″ wooden plank to a seven-foot cord. Clip the drag to your dog’s harness. Instruct your dog to pull the drag, stop, and move in other directions. Pause to reinforce with clicks and treats.
Step 5: Start urban mushing
When your pet masters pulling the drag, you can replace the drag with your bike. At first, simply walk your bike behind your dog while giving him various verbal commands. Once he’s comfortable with that, mount your bike and get ready for adventure!
Method 3: The Acclimatization Method
This method seeks to get your Husky comfortable with all the elements of bikejoring before asking the dog to pull you. You will need a friend’s help when it comes time to introduce your dog to the bike.
Step 1: Harness
Start by putting your dog’s bikejoring harness on and going for regular, leash-lead walks.
Step 2: Guidelines and verbal commands
Attach the lead guidelines to your Husky’s harness and start walking behind your dog. Encourage your husky to make the lines taught. As you do this, start working on the verbal mushing commands.
Step 3: Meet the bike
Ask a friend to walk your bike alongside your dog while you hold the guidelines and issue verbal commands from behind.
Step 4: Start pulling
Attach the rig to your bike and mount the bicycle while your friend jogs alongside your dog, holding a leash. Pedal along at your dog’s pace. Once your pup seems comfortable, you can gradually increase speed, lose the assistant, and let your dog pull.
Bikejoring Safety Tips for Huskies
Once your dog learns how to pull a bike, he will always be excited to go out bikejoring. Make sure urban mushing remains fun for you and your dog by keeping it safe with these tips.
Taking your dog straight from the sofa to the trail can lead to an injury. Before hooking your Husky up to the bike, give your pet a chance to warm-up and move around.
Play a quick game of fetch or take a leisurely walk around your block.
Also, never set out on an urban mushing adventure without plenty of water and a travel bowl to refresh your dog.
Favor cool weather and cooler times of the day
Huskies are bred to pull snow sleds in extremely cold temperatures, so they can overheat easily (even in relatively cool weather).
To minimize the risk of heat exhaustion, schedule your bikejoring excursions for the coolest parts of the day. Also, don’t be afraid to bundle yourself up and practice urban mushing during the cooler seasons.
Don’t overdo it
Huskies are highly motivated to pull. As a result, it’s not unusual for them to push themselves beyond their physical limits. It’s up to you, as the dog’s caregiver, to monitor your pet for signs of heat exhaustion and overexertion. Make sure you stop before your pet injures or overworks himself.
Are You Ready for a Bikejoring Adventure?
Now, you’re a bikejoring expert, too! You know what supplies you need, how to assess your dog, how to take the proper safety precautions, and how to train your husky to pull a bike. Throughout the process, stay patient and remember that urban mushing is all about bonding with your dog and having fun!
Can more than one dog pull the bike? Yes! You can find out the best breeds to pair with a Husky by clicking here.
More Husky Goodness
Huskies make great outdoor dogs. Now that you know the steps to teach your dog bikejoring, we hope you both have excellent fun in the great outdoors.
If you are looking for more interesting information about this breed, we’ve got you covered here at the Outdoor Dog Fun blog:
- Weight and size – how big will your Husky get?
- One then two: getting another dog to pair with your Husky
- The best boots for your Husky for ice fishing
- We have 6 tips on raising Huskies. Read about them here.
- Want to know if Huskies and wolves are related? Go here.
- All Huskies have blue eyes: true or false?
- What are the different eye color combinations Huskies can have?
- How to keep your Husky cool in the Summer
- Does your Husky howl?
- All you need to know about your Husky’s weight
- All you need to know to cope with your Husky shedding
- Indoors vs outdoors: which suits your Husky best?
- Take your Husky backpacking: what you need to know